Round 1 – F4 UAE

 

 

 

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The first round of the F4 UAE Championship took place at the legendary Yas Marina Circuit (GP Layout). With both the amazing weather and turnout of people, the racing was bound to be exciting.

 

Practice/Qualifyiung

During Wednesday practice, I was consistently at the top. With Olli (teammate) and I using one another’s data, we were able to improve, showing great speed and competitive lap times. The competitive speed then continued into Thursday, where a Yas Marina “veteran” Charles Weerts showed up, keeping hot on our heels. But for qualifying, I knew there was a good chance for anyone of us to pole.

Warming up the tires and finding a gap, I was off, consistently building up. And just like that, the session was over and I knew the best time I made was competitive, but how competitive I didn’t know, as I messed up the last sector. Eventually, I got to know that I qualified 3rd behind Beckhauser and Charles Weerts, which to my surprise was expected, being 3 tenths behind first and exactly 3 tenths down in sector 3. Knowing my true pace, I proceeded into the first race undefeated and ready.

 

Races

With nine drivers officially entered for the opening round of the season, Race 1 was dominated by both Weerts and Beckhäuser who swapped paint and laps in the lead throughout the 30-minute race. This was because I got a lot of wheelspin from the start, dropping to fourth behind Olli. But eventually, I overtook my teammate for the final spot on the podium, therefore allowing the leaders to pull away. The only things I regretted from that race was the start and my initial aggressiveness, which could have been higher.

Race 2 on Friday morning featured an inverted top-six starting position, with  Petr Ptacek first because of Olli Smith (#3) withdrawing from the weekend. After an initial aborted start, Ptacek lead the field away as a three-way battle ensued between Olli (teammate) and Petr, with Olli taking first. Eventually, by lap 4, my tires finally came in and chased down both Petr and Olli. And by lap 9 I was in first and went on to win my very first F4 Race!

The race three grid was determined by each drivers’ second-fastest lap time in qualifying, giving Beckhäuser the start from pole alongside Weerts and with me in fourth. However, Petr stalled on the start and fell to the back of the field as the lights went out. Caldwell made the most grounds on lap one, getting to the lead and staying there for the full 30-minute race, as Charles and Beckhauser battled for second. This then allowed me to take advantage of Beckhauser, promoting me to third. But after battling with Charles for many laps, Beckhauser caught up once again and attempted a pass on me, which was quickly regained by myself. By then, Charles was already long gone with second position.

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The final 30-minute race saw another inverted top-six start with Roy on pole alongside Beckhäuser on the front row. As the lights went off for the final time, I stalled, dropping back into last (10 seconds behind first). As I pushed eventually made up positions, Beckhäuser was too strong for Petr and took the lead on the first lap, only to then be pursued by Weerts who too, stole second position from him. But by the last lap, he was under pressure by me. It took me so long that by the last lap I had barely any power and focus within me to stick the pass. Although I wanted to get on the podium as much as anybody else I stayed happy, knowing my pace and performance would shine in the next round.